Vascular calcification is defined as an inappropriate accumulation of calcium depots occurring in soft tissues, including the vascular wall. Growing evidence suggests that vascular calcification is an actively regulated process, sharing similar mechanisms with bone formation, implicating both inhibitory and inducible factors, mediated by osteoclast-like and osteoblast-like cells, respectively. This process, which occurs in nearly all the arterial beds and in both the medial and intimal layers, mainly involves vascular smooth muscle cells. In the vascular wall, calcification can have different clinical consequences, depending on the pattern, localization and nature of calcium deposition. Nuclear receptors are transcription factors widely expressed, activated by specific ligands that control the expression of target genes involved in a multitude of pathophysiological processes, including metabolism, cancer, inflammation and cell differentiation. Some of them act as drug targets. In this review we describe and discuss the role of different nuclear receptors in the control of vascular calcification.
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